Posted: Robert Siciliano | February 9, 2016


Beware of Mobile Tech Support Scams

Tech support scams aren't just for desktop or laptop users; beware if you use a smartphone or tablet. Crooks are really zeroing in on the smartphone and tablet as a platform for their crimes. Here is a common way this scenario plays out:

  • You receive an unsolicited call from some big-name tech support company (or so you think).
  • They tell you your mobile device or tablet is infected with malware.
  • The red flag is how could Apple or Google or whatever company the caller says he's with possibly know that your device, out of a zillion out there, is infected? But so many users fall for this scam.
  • Part of the lure is the use of tech speak and even accents, making the caller sound legitimate.
  • The victim is suckered into downloading and installing a program that allows the scammer to show the user some "problem," convincing them the device is compromised.
  • The user ends up purchasing useless software or is tricked into downloading/installing malware.
  • The caller might also approach the victim from a different angle: Informing them they're owed a refund because the tech support company is going belly up or made a mistake. This way they get you to reveal your bank account number to make the deposit-which never happens. Instead they drain your bank account.

Sometimes the scammer reels the victim in with an ad. People think an ad is legit because it's paid cyberspace. But scammers post ads for tech support. The ruse may work as follows:

  • You're asked to give remote control of your phone to the tech support person.
  • The tech will say he found malware.
  • He'll identify a particular file as the problem. He may say something that doesn't ring true to the ears of a tech savvy user, but to the average person, it'll get right past them.
  • The scammer will delete some of your phone's files, then restore them, pointing out that this means the infection came back.
  • You'll then hear you must buy some kind of tech support subscription-one that's hardly cheap. And of course, there will be no support. You lose.

Robert Siciliano is an identity theft expert to discussing identity theft prevention.


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